Opposite this village lies “Mary’s Well,” so called because the Virgin Mary fetched water here every day. The inhabitants of Siloam follow her example to this day. A little farther on is the pool of Siloam, where our Lord healed the man who was born blind. This pool is said to possess the remarkable property, that the water disappears and returns several times in the course of twenty-four hours.
At the extremity of the valley of Jehosaphat a small hill rises like a keystone; in this hill are several grottoes, formed either by nature or art, which also once served as sepulchres. They are called the “rock-graves.” At present the greater portion of them are converted into stables, and are in so filthy a state that it is impossible to enter them. I peeped into one or two, and saw nothing but a cavern divided into two parts. At the summit of these rock-graves lies the “Field of Blood,” bought by the priests for the thirty pieces of silver which Judas cast down in the temple.
In the neighbourhood of the Field of Blood rises the hill of Sion. Here, it is said, stood the house of Caiaphas the high-priest, whither our Lord was brought a prisoner. A little Armenian church now occupies the supposed site. The tomb of David, also situated on this hill, has been converted into a mosque, in which we are shewn the place where the Son of Man ate the last Passover with His disciples.
The burial-grounds of the Roman Catholics, Armenians, and Greeks surround this hill.
The “Hill of Bad Counsel,” so called because it is said that here the judges determined to crucify Christ, rises in the immediate vicinity of Mount Sion. A few traces of the ruins of Caiaphas’ house are yet visible.
The “Grotto of Jeremiah” lies beyond the “Gate of Damascus,” in front of which we found, near a cistern, an elaborately-sculptured sarcophagus, which is used as a water-trough. This grotto is larger than any I have yet mentioned. At the entrance stands a great stone, called Jeremiah’s bed, because the prophet is said generally to have slept upon it. Two miles farther on we come to the graves of the judges and the kings. We descend an open pit, three or four fathoms deep, forming the courtyard. This pit is a square about seventy feet long and as many wide. On one side of this open space we enter a large hall, its broad portal ornamented with beautiful sculpture, in the form of flowers, fruit, and arabesques. This hall leads to the graves, which run round it, and consist of niches hewn in the rock, just sufficiently large to contain a sarcophagus. Most of these niches were choked up with rubbish, but into some we could still see; they were all exactly alike. These long, narrow, rock-hewn graves reminded me exactly of those I had seen in a vault at Gran, in Hungary. I could almost have supposed the architect at Gran had taken the graves of the valley of Jehosaphat for his model.